Tuesday, August 23, 2011

WorldCon, The Rest

Well, the excitement of WorldCon was such that I have been unable to blog for a few days! Now that I'm back and somewhat recovered, I thought I'd start by telling you the rest of it.

Friday I began with a reading by members of Broad Universe, which was very enjoyable. I also attended a panel about the nature of Consciousness, featuring Mary Turzillo, Nancy Kress, Jack Skillingstead, Daryl Gregory, and M. J. Locke. I had an amazing encounter with Greg Bear in the dealer's room where we started out discussing worldbuilding (since I'd attended the panel with him the night before) and I ended up offering him a copy of "At Cross Purposes" which he - to my astonishment - asked me to sign. This was the moment when I would have loved to have a copy of a Greg Bear novel on me to ask him to sign in return, but I'd been "traveling light" and didn't even have my program! Sigh. I learned that my friend Alan Smale had won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for his story "A Clash of Eagles" in Panverse 1 - super exciting! At lunch on Friday I headed over to the Peppermill hotel for lunch with Stan Schmidt, my editor at Analog, his wife Joyce, and fellow Analog author Paul Carlson. We chatted about stories and about life in general, and though I tried to leave early the shuttle was terribly late, so I was late for my first panel of the day. This one was a bit depressing, entitled "Anticipatory Anthropology" with Margaret McGaffey Fisk, Pat McEwen, and Irene Radford. It was mostly about how people would live and how society would develop in a relatively near future where resources were very scarce - but everyone there had interesting things to say! At four I had a panel called "Neologism and Linguicide" which I had expected to be depressing (needless to say I was steeling myself after the previous one!). But though we were discussing the extinction of world languages, the panel was very upbeat - I was up there with Sheila Finch, David J. Peterson, and Lawrence Schoen. All of them are practical linguists and so between the four of us we took a pragmatic approach which I'll have to go into in more depth in a separate post. Much time was spent talking about how wonderful it was to learn a language very different from one's own, a cause I can get behind any time. All the panels I saw (during the whole convention) were very well-attended. After the panels I rejoined my family for dinner. We ate at the Claim Jumper with Margaret McGaffey Fisk and her husband, Pat McEwen and Rebecca Partridge, which was wonderful fun. Contrary to my usual pattern, I decided to dress up and go out to a party thereafter - I headed up to the SFWA suite for a party hosted by Dell Magazines. I saw so many people there that it would be impossible to list them all, but they included Nayad Monroe, Sheila Williams (who the next evening won the Hugo for best editor!), Bud Sparhawk, Brad Torgerson, Ann Crispin, Joan D. Vinge, Jerry Oltion (who gave me an Analog MAFIA pin!), Traci Morganfield, Aliette de Bodard, and many others. Traci and Aliette are both members of my online writer's group, Written in Blood, but this was only the second time I'd met Aliette, and the first time I'd ever laid eyes on Traci!

After getting to bed late on Friday, I started Saturday attending a panel about common myths that Science Fiction has caused the general public to hold as truths (rather inadvertently!) the one that stands out is the idea that anything scientific can happen quickly. On the panel were Greg Benford, Mike Flynn, Joe Haldeman, Corry L. Lee, and Alastair Reynolds. It was a terrific discussion and often quite amusing. Between that and my noon panel I tried hanging out and socializing, and met Gardner Dozois, who is an interesting man and very fond of jokes (I mentioned that he had reviewed me and he feigned fear of reprisal!). At noon I was on a panel called "Designing Believable Languages" with Peadar Ó Guilín, David J. Peterson, and S.M. Stirling. That was wonderful fun. We began by addressing the rather odd question put forward by the description of the panel, which was how factors like biology and population density affect language (they do). Then we took turns discussing how we start going about creating a believable alien language. I was particularly taken with David's model, in which he designed the language and then "aged" it to give rise to irregularities and sound changes. After lunch with my family I joined Mary Turzillo, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff and Stanley Schmidt for a discussion of the woman writers of Analog. That was a very interesting panel, as we were able to discuss Analog and our own stories, and also to address some of the myths surrounding Analog and its taste for "hard" science fiction. I found it heartening that the number of women appearing in Analog has gone up steadily in recent years, though many fewer submit to Analog than do men. According to Rick Lovett, the number of women appearing in Biologs (biographical pieces for people who have had three stories in the magazine) is about one in three, with a total of 40% in pending biologs. After that panel I had my reading at 4:30. I read from "Cold Words" to a small audience which included my children and my husband (yay!). That evening we went to pizza with friends, and then at their request I finished reading the story to them afterward. Unfortunately, I was too exhausted after that to make an appearance at the Hugo award banquet.

Sunday we had a pretty slow morning, but I finished the convention with an autographing session. I sat beside Jack Skillingstead, who is quite a wonderful person to chat with. He introduced me to Daryl Gregory, who was standing by and took advantage of this opportunity to autograph some things too. I had been concerned (as you might imagine) that nobody would come and see me, but to my pleasant surprise I was visited by a good number of people during the hour. I watched the lines of people cycling through for Nancy Kress and Gail Carriger, sitting down the table from me. Many of the people in Gail Carriger's line carried parasols, which was delightful. The most incongruous moment of the hour was when Gail, looking gorgeous in complete Victorian garb, started talking on her cell phone.

We had a very long drive home, which due to traffic was about five and a half hours rather than the four it had taken us to drive to Reno from California. However, we are home safe and sound, and as an added bonus, the termites had been killed while we were gone from our house (whew!). Of course, this did mean that there was no food in the house - and by that I mean literally, NO FOOD. But a quick trip to the store got us through and we have a few days to resume our routine before school starts.

After such an awesome time I'm feeling newly energized for my writing, and I'm very excited about what will happen when I suddenly have six hours a day to work. Watch out, works-in-progress!